Truck Accident Attorneys in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
There is no doubt that large trucks, such as tractor-trailers and semi-trucks, are a vital part of the Tuscaloosa economy. To be sure, each day numerous trucks use I-20 to drive across the state on route to their destinations. It’s true, our citizens’ comfort and wellbeing depend on these trucks delivering goods to businesses within our borders. At the law offices of Burge & Burge, P.C., our lawyers recognize how important large trucks and their drivers are.
But our lawyers have also seen the devastating effects that a truck accident can have on both an individual’s and a family’s life. Unlike accidents involving two passenger cars, the pure weight of large trucks means that these crashes are inherently more dangerous. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident involving a large truck in Tuscaloosa, our personal injury attorneys want to meet with you. We know how to fight for the rights of injury victims in our city.
Truck Accidents Can Have Deadly Consequences
Anyone who has driven by the wreckage of a large truck and a passenger car collision on the highway knows that the passenger car is almost always completely totaled. Because the force involved in a large truck collision is so great, smaller vehicles are almost always destroyed, and any drivers or passengers within are left with catastrophic injuries. These injuries might include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries (which can cause total and permanent paralysis), internal injuries, amputation injuries, soft tissue injuries, bone fractures, back and neck injuries, and more. It should also be noted that large truck crashes often leave those involved with marked psychological injuries as well.
These injuries may not only be very costly to treat, but could also prevent that injured party from returning to work, which jeopardizes their family’s well-being. Injuries and psychological effects may also affect relationships as well, creating strain on a family.
How to Recover Compensation after a Truck Accident
There are two very important things to know about recovering compensation after a truck accident in Tuscaloosa. The first is that commercial carriers (such as large trucks) are held to a higher standard of care than are the drivers of traditional passenger cars. The second is that in Alabama, those who cause collisions are responsible for paying for the damages that result. This means that if your truck accident was caused by the negligence of the truck driver or trucking company, you have the right to seek 100 percent of your damages. However, you can also seek damages from any other at-fault party, which could be:
- A third-party driver (i.e. the driver of another passenger vehicle);
- A truck part manufacturer, such as the manufacturer of defective brakes or tires;
- A shipper or loader of cargo (assuming a cargo shift or similar incident was the cause of the crash).
Evidence in Truck Collision Claims
Since trucking is a field that’s heavily regulated at the federal level, truck accidents have substantial evidence that isn’t available in other types of collisions. The most important piece of evidence that is unique to truck collisions is the electronic logging device.
The FMCSA requires that all trucks newer than 1999 have ELDs in use. ELDs track a wide range of information, including speed, GPS location, stopping and starting times, hours of service, engine hours, hazardous events like sudden braking or swerving, and fault codes.
If your attorney gets access to the ELD, they may be able to look over the data it holds to find out if the driver engaged in any unsafe behavior. They may also find out if the driver was within permitted hours of service. Any violation could be evidence that the driver was fatigued at the time of the crash.
Investigating a Trucking Accident in Tuscaloosa
There are myriad things that can cause a crash, ranging from truck operator negligence to poor road conditions to trucking company negligence to defective truck parts and more. Because of the wide scope of potential causation factors, it is critical that a thorough investigation is opened following the crash to determine the precise cause of the accident. This is especially true considering Alabama’s laws of contributory negligence, which bar a plaintiff’s recovery if the plaintiff contributed to their injuries in the slightest.
When you hire the law offices of Burge & Burge, P.C., we will do what is needed to determine the cause of your crash and hold the responsible party liable for the harm you have suffered. This includes talking to witnesses, collecting a police report, sending spoliation of evidence letters, analyzing truck “black box” data, reviewing drivers’ logs, reviewing trucking company maintenance and service logs, analyzing physical data (skid marks and more), and more. We hire experienced accident reconstruction experts who can help build your case.
Why Truck Crashes Are Different from Other Vehicle Accidents
Although truck accidents make up a small percentage of total crashes across the country, they are more likely to cause fatalities than other types of traffic collisions. What makes truck accidents so much more dangerous than other crashes?
To start, trucks’ sheer size makes them a danger to anyone they encounter. When it’s fully loaded, a tractor-trailer is easily more than one dozen times heavier than a passenger vehicle. Consider the fact that most collisions happen on highways, and then imagine how much damage such a large vehicle could do.
You also have to look at the structure of a tractor-trailer. They have enormous blind spots on all four sides, and it’s very difficult for even the most experienced truck driver to stay on top of potential obstacles on all sides. The structure of a tractor-trailer also makes it prone to certain types of collisions.
This includes a jackknife, which happens when the rear end of the truck swerves out and away from the tractor, causing the entire truck to swerve out of control. Rollover accidents are also relatively common since trucks are top-heavy. As you may imagine, a rollover accident can be deadly if a truck rolls over onto other vehicles or rolls off of a bridge.
Truck accidents are also very dangerous because of the pressure on truck drivers. Although the demand for truck drivers has expanded rapidly, the availability of drivers has not. This has pushed some carriers to put unsustainable pressure on drivers, demanding that they ignore hours-of-service regulations, drive on minimal sleep, or take back-to-back loads when it is unsafe to do so. Unfortunately, this makes it more likely that you will encounter a fatigued truck driver.
Act Now Before It’s Too Late
It is important that you act quickly after a truck accident to initiate the claims process and start seeking the damages that you deserve. One of the most important reasons to call an attorney as soon as you are able is the state’s statute of limitations, which prevents plaintiffs from seeking damages from an at-fault party after two years have passed since the cause of action.
However, in addition to the statute of limitations, acting quickly is important because it ensures that evidence that is necessary for your case is well-preserved. Further, the quicker you act to file a claim, the sooner you are likely to recover a settlement to pay for your injuries.
Do I need to Work with a Truck Accident Attorney?
Working with an attorney after a crash is always optional – there is no law that requires you to hire a legal professional. However, working with an attorney is recommended, especially when damages are particularly severe. Your attorney will:
- Ensure your claim is filed within the statute of limitations;
- Investigate your case;
- Negotiate with insurance adjusters;
- Review your options for recovering damages, including all potentially liable parties;
- Calculate the value of your claim accounting for all economic and noneconomic damages; and
- File a lawsuit and take your case to court on your behalf if reaching a settlement out of court is impossible.
Call the Law Offices of Burge & Burge, P.C. Today for Your Free Consultation
There is nothing worse than getting a call from a law enforcement officer to inform you that your loved one has been involved in a truck accident, and has suffered significant or fatal injuries, or waking up in a hospital bed in searing pain and confusion, only to learn that a negligent truck driver hit your vehicle, leaving you with permanent injuries.
When the negligence of another party leads to a truck accident, our attorneys will be here to fight for you. We are experienced truck accident attorneys in Tuscaloosa with a track record of success. We put our clients first, and know that the most important person in your truck accident case is you. To schedule a free consultation with our law offices, please call us at 205-251-9000, send us a message, or visit our offices in person at your earliest convenience.